The best books about the end of civilization as we know it

Who am I?

Why do I have expertise in end-of-the-world scenarios? Well, I am a person living in the 2020s who reads too much. But more than that, I’ve had an interest in space exploration and history for as long as I can remember. While those two might seem like completely unrelated fields, it gives me a wider view of our world in the sense of where we are and where we are going. Civilization is not always a straight line upward. And when it dips down… well interesting things happen. Saturnius Mons specifically blends my love of Roman history with my interest in humanity’s future.


I wrote...

Saturnius Mons (Ruins of Empire)

By Jeremy L. Jones,

Book cover of Saturnius Mons (Ruins of Empire)

What is my book about?

The once great Global Civilization not only dominated the earth by the end of the 21st century, but it expanded to the solar system and created colonies on Venus, Mars, Europa, and Titan. Then came the Fall.

Overnight the light of Civilization dimmed and the settlers on these far-flung worlds were left to fend for themselves for a thousand years. Saturnius takes place on Titan where the colony has split into two factions. One inhabits the ancient city and has formed a cult around the Global Corporation. The other has retreated to the forests and waits for the moment to destroy it all. But what could cause a global civilization to simply collapse? Well, this list provides some interesting scenarios…

The books I picked & why

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Virtual Light

By William Gibson,

Book cover of Virtual Light

Why this book?

What can you say about the book that kicked off a whole new genre?

Widely regarded as the first ‘cyberpunk’ novel, reading Virtual Light today is beyond eery. It takes place in the dystopian future year of 2006 (the book was written in 1994) and is set in San Francisco during a time when the middle class has disappeared and the only people left are either disgustingly rich or living on the street. And as I look around at what San Francisco, and many other cities have become, it makes me think that Gibson might be the Cassandra of the modern world. 

Virtual Light

By William Gibson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Virtual Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES bestseller * 2005: Welcome to NoCal and SoCal, the uneasy sister-states of what used to be California.

The millennium has come and gone, leaving in its wake only stunned survivors. In Los Angeles, Berry Rydell is a former armed-response rentacop now working for a bounty hunter. Chevette Washington is a bicycle messenger turned pickpocket who impulsively snatches a pair of innocent-looking sunglasses. But these are no ordinary shades. What you can see through these high-tech specs can make you rich-or get you killed. Now Berry and Chevette are on the run, zeroing in on the digitalized heart…


Hit

By Delilah S. Dawson,

Book cover of Hit

Why this book?

Here’s the premise: One bank rules the world and has decided to get rid of some deadbeats. A young woman trying to keep her sick mother alive is given a list of debtors, a gun, and a choice. She can kill everyone on the list or she can die herself.

My favorite part of this book is the mood Dawson sets as the main character interacts with a world that is desperately pretending that everything is okay. I could actually feel the young woman’s anxiety and desperation in my stomach.

Hit

By Delilah S. Dawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In order to save her mother, a teen is forced to become an indentured assassin in this sizzling “movie ready” (Kirkus Reviews) dystopian thriller.

No one reads the fine print.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that it was bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of…


Them or Us

By David Moody,

Book cover of Them or Us

Why this book?

Humanity has been divided between the Haters and the Unchanged. The Haters fly into a blind rage and attempt to kill any Unchanged they happen upon. But after the resulting nuclear war, there are only a few Unchanged left in the world. But Danny can hold the Hate and he uses this profound ability to blend with the Unchanged and find their hidden acloves. But as their numbers dwindle, Danny’s loyalty to the Haters comes into question. Besides just being an entertaining and chilling story, Moody sheds light on the destructive nature of an emotion that I see as the defining trait of our new societal landscape. 

Them or Us

By David Moody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Them or Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Movie rights in the HATER series were snapped up by PAN'S LABYRINTH/HELLBOY director Guillermo del Toro and producer Mark Johnson (The NARNIA movies). Perfect for fans of HBO's THE WALKING DEAD, the series reaches a shattering conclusion...The war which has torn the human race apart is finally nearing an end. The population has been devastated, and the earth has been reduced to a poisoned ruin. Most of the towns and cities are uninhabitable, and with the country in the grip of a savage nuclear winter, both Haters and Unchanged alike struggle to survive. Hundreds of Hater fighters have settled in…


Fight Club

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Book cover of Fight Club

Why this book?

If you haven’t read this much-maligned book in the past five years or so, give it another look. It’s often been panned as glorifying violence and toxic masculinity but, with the right set of eyes, it becomes a dire warning about what happens to a society that values nothing and tries to placate the suffering of its people with clothes they don’t need and vacations they will never afford. It is a tale about what happens when a system fails to provide anything but crass consumerism to its people. And it isn’t pretty. 

Fight Club

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Fight Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation's most visionary satirist in this, his first book. Fight Club's estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars. There, two men fight "as long as they have to." This is a gloriously original work that exposes the darkness at the core of our modern world.


The Girl With All the Gifts

By M.R. Carey,

Book cover of The Girl With All the Gifts

Why this book?

Who doesn’t like a good zombie story? Even in a completely saturated genre, this book stands out. The world has been taken over by the undead. (The fast kind. And if you know that distinction, congratulations on being as morbidly obsessed with zombies as I am.) A brilliant little girl who has grown up in a lab discovers that she is one of the ‘hungries’. And when the lab is attacked by a zombie horde, she and the other survivors are forced to survive in a hostile world together. But the zombie apocalypse is bad enough when you don’t have one in your party.

The Girl With All the Gifts

By M.R. Carey,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Girl With All the Gifts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'ORIGINAL, THRILLING AND POWERFUL' - Guardian
'HAUNTING, HEARTHBREAKING' - Vogue
The phenomenal million-copy bestseller that is also a BAFTA Award-nominated movie

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in survival, Los Angeles, and dystopia?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about survival, Los Angeles, and dystopia.

Survival Explore 134 books about survival
Los Angeles Explore 199 books about Los Angeles
Dystopia Explore 255 books about dystopia

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hot Zone, World War Z, and A Clockwork Orange if you like this list.